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While countries have dragged their feet for years on meaningful climate action, many cities around the world have forged ahead with sustainability efforts. In July, about 60 mayors pledged to fight climate change at a two-day conference hosted by Pope Francis.

Several cities have even made impressive strides to ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewables. Two recent reports have confirmed that 100 percent renewable energy is possible. Earlier this summer, professors out of Stanford and U.C. Berkeley laid out a plan for the U.S. to convert to 100 percent renewable energy in less than 40 years, and Monday Greenpeace published its Energy Revolution 2015 report, which proposes a pathway to a 100 percent sustainable energy supply by 2050.

A report issued last week by CDP, a a U.K.-based nonprofit, and AECOM shows that “96 cities—one third of cities participating in CDP—are already taking action to decarbonize their electricity supply. And 86 percent of these cities say taking action on climate change presents an economic opportunity.”

This year, 308 cities reported to CDP. Nearly half a billion people call these cities home—equivalent to the combined population of the U.S., UK and France. The report found that “currently over a third of cities get more than three quarters of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, showing that cities are actively using cleaner energy sources.”

There’s huge potential here: “Power generation is the single largest carbon emitter in the energy market globally, producing 12.6 gigatons of CO2 in 2015,” says CDP. “With cities consuming 78 percent of energy globally, establishing renewable power sources for them can have a major impact on global emissions.”

“One of the biggest challenges for cities is often their lack of direct control over their electricity or energy generation,” said Conor Riffle, director of cities and data innovation at CDP. “Despite this, cities have been finding ways to shake up their energy mix and inspire a move away from fossil fuels.  As greenhouse gas emissions continue to mount, it is more important than ever that we seize the opportunities of a low-carbon future.  Cities are well placed to lead this transition.”

U.S. Cities

The city of Aspen, Colorado announced earlier this month that it will be running on 100 percent renewable energy by the end of the year, making it the third city in America to do so. Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas, which decided to make the move after it was devastated by a powerful tornado in 2007, have also gone 100 percent renewable. Other U.S. cities, including Santa Monica and San Francisco, have set targets to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

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